Coming off an injury-plagued 2013 season, Derek Jeter is going to command attention with pretty much every move that he makes this spring. Today was no different, as the Associated Press reports that he took live batting practice on the field and fielded grounders from shortstop for the first time this year.
Jeter took 39 swings over five rounds of batting practice and fielded 34 grounders at shortstop at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Florida. He had previously been hitting in an indoor batting cage and fielding grounders off the infield grass, so today was an important (though ultimately unexciting) step in his progression.
Jeter remains a big question mark as he enters his age-40 season, but it’s so far, so good at the moment:
“This offseason is like a normal offseason,” said Jeter, who was in a walking boot until early January last year. “I’m four months ahead of where I was last year. Last year, quite honestly, I want to forget about it.”
Jeter, who was limited to just 17 games in 2013 due to ankle, calf, and quad injuries, is sitting on 3,316 hits as he enters his 20th and potential final season in the majors. He needs just four hits to pass Paul Molitor for ninth on the all-time list while Carl Yastrzemski, Honus Wagner, Cap Anson and Tris Speaker could all be within striking distance this year if he can remain healthy and return to his 2012 form at the plate.
The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.
Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.
Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.
Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).
Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.